Ben Rogaly was at the AAG conference in Boston, discussing the local level struggles by nationals of central and eastern European EU countries for a ‘right to the city’ in the UK after the vote to leave the EU in the UK.
Re-Scaling Citizenship Struggles in Provincial Urban England
on Sunday, 9/4/2017 at 10:00 AM
Following Britain’s referendum over continued membership of the European Union (EU) in June 2016, the future status in the UK of nationals of other EU countries has become the subject of intensified political debate. Meanwhile in several localities (particularly in England), EU nationals from central and eastern Europe have been subject to xenophobic attacks, as part of a wider post-referendum spike in racist abuse which some perpetrators may feel were legitimised by statements of leading figures in both the official and unofficial ‘Leave’ campaigns and by parts of the print media. This paper is concerned with the local level struggles by nationals of central and eastern European EU countries for a ‘right to the city’, a slogan which is itself subject to contested meanings. It uses the case study of Peterborough, where, over the last seventy years, relatively large numbers of migrants have travelled to settle and work. The demands made by international migrants for voice and representation in city governance and for housing and workplace justice can be seen as struggles over the nature of citizenship at the scales of the factory, warehouse and neighbourhood as well as the city. In the context of ongoing multi-scale quasi-colonial governance of ‘difference’ in Britain, such citizenship struggles need to be understood alongside (and in relation to) those of other working-class people, including long-term residents and migrants from elsewhere in the UK, and both ethnic minorities and the white British ethnic majority.